Manufacturers forced out by hipsters who want to 'slum it with the metalbashers' in Sheffield's coolest area

Sheffield manufacturers are being forced out of a traditional business district after it gained a global reputation for being ‘cool’.
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Small firms in Neepsend are facing noise complaints, competition for parking, soaring rents, leases not being renewed and schemes that reduce traffic and promote cycling. Bosses fear the city council wants to push out ‘dirty and smelly’ - but thriving - industries in favour of cafes, bars and flats.

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Only this week a Manchester developer announced a scheme to turn the former Cannon Brewery on Rutland Road into apartments. Time Out magazine recently hailed Kelham, including Neepsend, the 35th Coolest Neighbourhood in the World.

Welcome to Neepsend.Welcome to Neepsend.
Welcome to Neepsend.
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The area has been promoted for its ‘authenticity’ and the ‘romance’ of traditional work - but the firms that create its reputation are losing out. Neepsend is following a pattern started in Kelham Island which has seen all but a handful of manufacturers leave.

Welder Josh Thomas has been in a unit on Bardwell Road, Neepsend, for five months after being forced out of premises on Alma Street, Kelham, when the landlord sold to a residential developer. He said: “It cost me a lot of money and I had two weeks of downtime while I moved.”

Boss of neighbouring business, Dave Molteno of Dave Molteno Steelcraft, thinks it’s just a ‘matter of time’ before they are pushed out too. He added: “I would like us to be able to continue down here but I think the writing is on the wall. People like to come to Neepsend to slum it with the metalbashers. But the parking down here as reached saturation point.”

Ian Watkinson, left, and Steve Hirst run Sabre Toolmaking next door to Neepsend Social Club on Burton Road.Ian Watkinson, left, and Steve Hirst run Sabre Toolmaking next door to Neepsend Social Club on Burton Road.
Ian Watkinson, left, and Steve Hirst run Sabre Toolmaking next door to Neepsend Social Club on Burton Road.

Graham McIlhagga, of 2 Brothers Powder Coating on Ball Street, said he doesn’t mind residents but objected to the closure of Ball Street bridge to make Kelham a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ because it had caused a drop in passing trade.

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In Full Stop cafe on Burton Road staff fear planned double yellow lines would stop delivery drivers pulling up for a sandwich. Further up Burton Road, Ian Watkinson and Steve Hirst run Sabre Toolmaking next door to Neepsend Social Club. At times they are operating a forklift truck next to drinkers at outdoor tables they say. And they have the strong feeling they are no longer wanted in the area.

At times they are operating a forklift truck next to drinkers at outdoor tables they say.At times they are operating a forklift truck next to drinkers at outdoor tables they say.
At times they are operating a forklift truck next to drinkers at outdoor tables they say.

Ian said: “Everything is more geared towards residents moving in. It’s harder to take deliveries because of parking and rents are going up. Our lease is up in a year and we’re concerned we won’t be able to renew.”

Several firms mention a fabricator being forced out of a unit on Hicks Street and being replaced by a gym and another company under pressure from its landlord to allow a courtyard to be used for social events.

Terry Lee, of EE Ingleton Engineering on Mowbray Street, said a new parking permit system would cost his 22 staff £24-a-week each. And existing restrictions resulted in big queues as their fork truck ferried bundles of steel from lorries across the road. He added: “We think Sheffield City Council has an agenda to get industry out of this area because we are dirty and smelly.”

Dave Molteno of Dave Molteno Steelcraft on Barwell Road thinks it’s just a ‘matter of time’ before they are pushed out.Dave Molteno of Dave Molteno Steelcraft on Barwell Road thinks it’s just a ‘matter of time’ before they are pushed out.
Dave Molteno of Dave Molteno Steelcraft on Barwell Road thinks it’s just a ‘matter of time’ before they are pushed out.
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Sheffield City Council’s active travel scheme states the intention is to 'reinforce and accelerate' the development of Neepsend and Kelham with new cycling and walking infrastructure and improved routes for buses.

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